Eblex calls for better cattle handling to improve margins

Improving cattle handling could save up to £160 per carcase at current market values, according to Eblex.

Eblex said that dark cutting and bruising, due to bad handling, are hitting margins, and it is encouraging producers to take advice from its Better Returns Programme manual, ‘Improving Cattle Handling for Better Returns’.

Dark cutting beef can reduce beef carcase values by as much as 50p/kg, according to Eblex figures. The dark colour is caused by hormones released by cattle when they are stressed and anxious, due to mixing with unfamiliar animals or other issues in the hours before slaughter.

The organisation said seasonal changes in temperatures, catching cattle before they have grown a winter coat, and a drop in dietary energy from late-season grass, can all add to the problem.

Eblex now has a number of best-practice guidelines for producers, which can be viewed in the manual here.

Dr Phil Hadley, Eblex senior regional manager for the southern region, said: “Mixing unfamiliar animals in the 24 to 48 hours prior to slaughter can lead to fighting and mounting behaviour.

“Our research shows that the costs of ignoring this type of behaviour could have a significant impact on margins for those in the supply chain, seriously affecting the appearance and quality of the meat. Careful cattle handling is key to maximising returns.”

Eblex advice for improving margins through handling also includes good water provision, ensuring there is not too much noise, short journey times, avoiding moving bulls into new pens, avoiding mixing consignments, and avoiding frequent weighing and re-tagging or clipping out within a week of slaughter.

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